Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I'm Not Moving Anytime Soon

I stayed up until 2:17am on the eve of Mother's Day trying to finish up The Package Deal. I was close enough, or so I thought, to the end, and I thought, "What the hell.... I get to sleep in tomorrow for Mother's Day, so I might as well stay up late to read."

Wrong decision. It's not that the book was bad and that's what made it a bad decision. On the contrary, it was a great read. Why, you ask, was it a bad choice to stay awake way past my bedtime reading? Well, the cute little two year old in my house decided that she was going to wake up early, which would not have been such a biggie because Papa would take care of her. But she also decided to be really cranky and cry until 10:00am. So, I slept for five minutes, woke up for twenty. Slept for five, woke up for ten.... you get it. Not much sleeping in on MY DAY!

Oh well. This is how the story goes if there are little kids around. Gotta prepare for the unexpected, right?

While reading Izzy's book, I had lots on my mind. You see, I have a ten year old son from a previous marriage, and he now has a stepmom of his own. So reading a book about a single woman shedding her single woman skin and growing into her role as full-time mama made me think of the other woman in my son's life- his stepmother. We have a fairly decent relationship with each other- no fighting or jealousy that is typically so common between two women sharing kids. My son's stepmom already had two kids of her own, so it was probably much easier for her to transition to being a stepmom. And she did a good job of not taking over the roll of mother. Somehow we just made it all ok.

Izzy, she didn't have kids of her own. Now, some of you may argue that she became a stepmom to two older kids- like somehow that's easier than inheriting a toddler or a baby. I tend to disagree. While little kids are ton of work, taking two older kids who already know what's going on seems to me like it might be a bit tougher to handle, especially on an emotional level for all who are involved. Less physical work with younger kids, more mental work with older ones. Those older boys have been around the block once or twice. There's no fooling them like you could with a little toddler or baby.

A couple of things that really made me appreciate reading The Package Deal:

1. I am happy that all four of my son's parents live in the same area. Oh, how I've wanted many times to pack up and move. Anywhere, really. In my soul, I'm a wanderer looking for new adventures and new ways to live life. And now that I am married to a German and have an opportunity to live in Europe again, it's very hard to stay put sometimes. The things I could do in Europe! Ah, the places to go and people to meet! But what would moving away do to my son, whose father would stay in Texas (because he LOVES Texas and would never be happy anywhere else)? It'd be horrible on him. He'd likely have to choose which parent to spend the majority of his time with, and there's no way in hell I'd let him go. Off to court we'd surely go.

So, thanks to the story, I know for sure that I will be in Texas for another 7 years. Bummer that for my wandering soul, but happy to know that my child will have one less thing to hold against me when he's older. A small sacrifice to make to raise my child.

And number 2: Where was the biomom in all of this? In the book, they (the four parents) agreed to move in a pack, more or less. If one parent got a job offer that was a better opportunity for their career, they'd all pack up and move together to make the raising of the kids easier. Well, this didn't work out and the real mom ended up staying in California. The two kids moved with the dad (and the writer of this book) to Austin. They ended up staying with them in Austin for months, apparently not seeing the real mom. And then, when Izzy had a chance to sit with the biomom to ask if she was indeed still planning on moving to Austin,(to raise HER KIDS), she was very aloof about it all and actually said something like, "Let me know if you want me to take them back."

What the fuck? Izzy Rose did a very good job not talking bad about the biomom because I instantly judged her from that comment. I'm human. What can I say?
What kind of mother would just let her kids go so easily? It made me incredibly judgemental of the biomom and very impressed with Izzy for standing in as she did to take care of these kids. Sure, I don't know the other side or the extenuating circumstances... blah blah blah... I just wanted to judge her alright. Luckily, for those boys, Izzy somehow knew the bottom line was to take care of these two kids who happened to be born from another. How cool is that?

And, it would appear that biomom has kids from her new marriage (as do I). It made me realize the importance of blending the families so the kids from the new marriages don't feel less special. It's a tough thing to do, especially if there's a huge age difference between the kids. But, I think after reading this, I will make an extra effort to make sure my son knows that he's just as special as the "new" kid in the house! I could never replace him with another.

She cracked me up talking about how she didn't want the dirt from the kids in her house and on her furniture. And let me tell you, she's not alone in that thinking. Birth mothers feel the same way! I can't tell you how many times I look at all of the sweaty, dirty kids with their freakin feet on my sofa and have a little attack of he sight of it. Gross!

Long story short, it was a good book. I talked with another lady who was reading it and said she was offended within the first 14 pages. I thought that was interesting- not the type of book I would think anyone could find offensive, so I'm wondering what you think about it. Have you read it? Did you delight in Izzy's accomplishments as a single woman who turned into super stepmom to two older boys? Did you find her offensive?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Laughing Out Loud

I finished reading In Transit yesterday. I have to say that I was a little disappointed; the book just wasn't as heavy as I thought it would be. I'll admit that the character, Bryan, had some issues. He was a big fan of sadomasochism, slept with many women- prostitutes, transvestites and all- without having much of a need to develop a true tie to anyone. For some reason, I think I was expecting much worse. Maybe I'm just one fucked up woman for thinking that the content wasn't as dicey as I thought it could have been. But writing about a sexually abused character is tough. I should know. I'm stalled out and the character in my book is me!

Some thoughts that I had when reading this book: Do all survivors of childhood sexual abuse grow up to never outgrow their issues? What's the success rate of a survivor growing up to not become an alcoholic, drug addict, loner, sex abuser or all out psycho? What can change in our society to make these many masses of people who were or are being abused heal to go on to lead a happy, successful life? I think that was the heaviest thing about this book for me.

In the book, they tried to figure out what happened to the character when he was young. He had memories of the abuse, but they weren't very clear. Most of the people that knew the people involved kept their mouths shut, as they didn't want to have anything to do with it. I fear that this is how the majority of our society is. And how exactly can someone heal from their past if everyone who may be able to help claims to not remember any details. Yes, that part of the book pissed me off.

I also felt a little disappointed that I couldn't get more into the character's head. I wasn't clear on all of the details of his abuse, nor did I really feel any empathy for him because he was so distant. Which, I'm assuming that's how the author intended the reader to feel about him?

Overall, the writing was good. The story was easy to follow, although it was lacking some of the punch that I thought it would have. Would I recommend it? I certainly would if it was a beginner book for someone reading about sexual abuse. It was sad, but not in a rip your heart out and make you vomit kind of way.

What am I reading now, you ask? The Package Deal: My (not-so) Glamorous Transition from Single Gal to Instant Mom is my newest book. It was written by Izzy Rose, another local Austin author. She is the creator of a website that offers support to stepmoms around the world.

I started to read this book before I was finished with In Transit because I am going to Izzy's Book Launch Party at BookPeople on Friday night (If you live in Austin, head down there at 7:00pm... there will be cupcakes from Hey Cupcake and cocktails!!). I wanted to be able to talk with her about it and ask questions, should there be an opportunity. I love it so far. I'm about a quarter of the way into the book and it's actually making me laugh out loud! Huh, I almost never laugh out loud when I'm reading. That's actually a pet peeve of mine, come to think of it. I can't stand when someone is reading next to me and they start laughing. It's like I'm expected to ask why they are laughing and get into the book with them. I don't like that kind of pressure.

Anyway, this book is a must read, even if you are not a stepmom, mom or woman. She's a great storyteller with an awesome sense of humor. Makes me want to go out for cocktails with her so that we can laugh out loud.